Toddler death a result of injuries from parents, neglected medical care, officials say

Waxahachie, TX - Waxahachie police say a baby died after the father continuously injured her, and neither he nor the mother ever sought medical treatment.

According to the Waxahachie Police Department, officers arrested 36-year-old Jose Sierra Hernandez on Jan. 7 and charged him with injury to a child, a first-degree felony following the death of 7-month-old Valeria Elizabeth Sierra Mata last month.

Police also arrested 20-year-old Alma Mata, who is Hernandez’ wife and Valeria’s mother, and charged her with abandoning/endangering a child, a state jail felony.

According to the Waxahachie police, officers responded to a call of a man with an unresponsive child Dec. 28 in the 300 block of S. College St., near the Ellis County Jail.

According an arrest affidavit as a pedestrian walked by Hernandez said, “I changed my baby’s diaper and look what happened.”

The pedestrian called 911 and later told officers Valeria already looked like she was dead.

When first responders arrived they began life-saving measures on Valeria. She was transported to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Waxahachie where she was pronounced dead.

After an autopsy was conducted the medical examiner ruled the death as a homicide, with the cause of death being blunt force injuries and sequelae.

Regarding the head injuries, Hernandez told investigators he was carrying Valeria inside the house one night and hit her head on a metal banister near the door, the affidavit states.

The affidavit states Mata confirmed that, and when asked about bruising and swelling on the other side of Valeria’s head Mata said Valeria had hit her head on the wooden back of a chair.

According to the affidavit Hernandez explained the clavicle injuries by telling investigators he would often toss Valeria in the air.

“He demonstrated the bizarre way that he threw her with a doll,” the affidavit states. “He was throwing her up in the air what looked to be a couple of feet upward as she was laying across his forearms.”

Mata told investigators that in October or November she noticed Valeria was being “fussy” and began crying when Mata picked her up. When Mata asked Hernandez about it he said it may have come from him “playfully” tossing Valeria in the air.

Regarding the leg injury, the affidavit states Hernandez told investigators he was trying to teach Valeria how to use the baby bouncer by lifting it up and down with her inside of it.

“He says Valeria straightened out one leg while he was doing this aggressive up and down pulling on the bouncer,” the affidavit states, “and so the force of him pushing down while her leg was locked out likely caused one of the bone breaks.”

Hernandez tried to explain other bruising by saying he and Mata would often pinch Valeria’s cheeks and that Valeria often threw herself around. But investigators said the bruising was suspicious and consistent with non-accidental causes, the affidavit states.

The affidavit states Mata put ointment on Valeria’s head after a head injury.

Following the leg injury Hernandez put lotion and a bandage on Valeria’s leg. Soon after, the affidavit states Valeria’s eyes later began rolling into the back of her head, so Sierra told Mata to loosen the bandage. She did that and then placed ice on the leg, and Valeria calmed down, Mata told investigators.

But at no time after any injury did the couple seek medical attention as the couple told investigators the baby seemed normal after the injuries, the affidavit states.

The affidavit states Mata told investigators initially that she had opted not to take Valeria to the doctor out of fear Valeria would be removed from the home. But later she retracted that statement, the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit only one doctor has seen Valeria, and none of the injuries described to investigators were in her medical report.

“The explanation of sustained injuries does not match the severity of each injury discovered,” the affidavit states. “Mata’s intentional prolonging of medical treatment for the victim resulted in the death of the victim.”

Police believe the incidents occurred at the family’s home in the 3400 block of Interstate 35E in Waxahachie.

According to the affidavit Mata told investigators that on the day Valeria died Sierra told Mata, “I’m sorry I wasn’t a good father.”

Lt. Chris Dickinson with the Waxahachie Police Department said Hernandez is not facing a capital murder charge because officials don’t believe the intent was to kill the child.

Hernandez is in Ellis County’s Wayne McCollum Detention Center. Bond was originally set at $1 million, but the next day it was reduced to $500,000. He remains in jail on the charge, as well as on an ICE retainer.

The affidavit states Sierra told an investigator he could easily flee to Mexico and detailed a plan on how to do it. He also admitted to being an illegal immigrant.

Mata’s bond was set at $250,000, but the bond was reduced to $50,000. She has since bonded out.

Police are continuing the investigation.

Source: Waxahachie Daily Light